Now Westlin Wind
Now Westlin Wind
A little book by Robert Burns with illustrations by Thomas Bewick
As the 25th of January approaches each year, various Robert Burns' songs make their way to the front of the pile of CDs in the workshop. In 2018 our favourite has been Dick Gaughan's CD of Handful of Earth, which includes his tender rendition of 'Now Westlin Wind'.
Robert Burns wrote the song in 1775 when he was a 16-year old schoolboy studying mathematics in Kirkoswald. In five lyrical eight-line verses, he manages to set out the four main themes which can be found throughout his subsequent work: a love of all nature; an abiding opposition to all forms of oppression; a keen appreciation of the meaning of hard work, especially farm labour; and a happy delight in being charmed by joy in other people.
The illustrations we chose are from Thomas Bewick's engravings of the nine birds mentioned in the poem, taken from the two-volume British Birds, first published in 1797 (vol. 1) and 1804 (vol 2). Here printed from line blocks, they are reduced to quarter-size to suit our page, although the two vignettes are both the same size as the original tail-pieces.
The type is Eric Gill's Joanna in 10 point roman and italic, newly cast for our cases at the Effra Typefoundry in Yorkshire. The paper is 90gsm Zerkall-Bütten. The book is 15 pages, 4 3/8 x 2 5/8 inches and bound with a cloth spine and patterned paper over board. The cover paper is handmade and decorated in India. We have shared the binding with Roger Grech at his Papercut Bindery in Shipley.
The edition is of about 180 numbered copies, with sheets for hand binders available.